Going Home Fat

I’m going home to Arkansas in about a week, and I had been really hoping that I wouldn’t go home fat. I knew this was coming when I bought the plane tickets in January. I thought to myself, “I have seven months to lose weight before my trip.” What have I done since then? I’ve gained an undisclosed amount of fat, mostly around my midsection.

I love to cook. I love to eat, and I love to try different wines. I am always craving new life experiences and similarly, I am always craving new taste experiences. I don’t really drink soda or sit around eating cupcakes all of the time. The weight problem really became worse after I started working as a freelance writer. My life in retail was miserable yet mobile. On the other hand, the writing life is both satisfying and sedentary.

Being fat blows. First of all, there are very few cute wardrobe choices. No matter how nice the cut or how eye-catching the pattern, every outfit that I own these days is some variation on the tent. Sometimes I wonder if people see me and start craving s’mores. Second, my own personal fat stock has not distributed attractively. The effects of pregnancy stretched out my abdomen and my upper back, and when the babies came out and the flesh sprang back, it didn’t quite go back all of the way. Instead of being nicely distributed over a fairly toned musculature, the fat has draped itself over this frightening cloak of sag.

People always have advice concerning how to lose weight. One piece of advice I get regularly is to analyze my relationship with food. I have a hard enough time relating to people, much less relating to a slice of pizza, but I’ve tried delving into my venerable psyche to try to understand how I relate to and use food. Instead of finding some magical “ah-ha” understanding of how food relates to my emotional health, I simply find this impulse that says, “Nom nom nom,” a drive far more Neanderthal than psychologically insightful.

When I venture out in public, I always assume that people look at my choices and say, “That’s why she’s such a lardass.” For instance, if I dare to have an ice cream or order a second margarita, then I deserve obesity as my punishment. I’ve peered in other people’s grocery carts before…haven’t you? And the absolute last thing I want people to see is me, out of breath, climbing the stairs. At least the last part’s getting better since I’ve started exercising again. I’ve started training for a 5k Fun Run in my town later this summer, and it’s been helpful because I feel as though I’m finally doing something to stem the tide. However, carrying the extra weight makes running uncomfortable, particularly in my ankles and my lower back.

Some members of my Arkansas family are incredibly rude. I’ve been called a fat cow by one of my uncles before (when I wasn’t particularly fat, by the way), and my dear old grandmother and some of the cousins on my father’s side of the family aren’t above saying, “You’ve certainly gained a lot of weight, Jackie.” Luckily, I’ve gained enough of a sense of self as an adult to respond to idiocy in an articulate manner and not to take it too personally. Still, even with my awesome Captain America shield of combined maturity and verbal self-defense skills, I’m still not itching for the combat.

The biggest fear that I feel about going home fat is that I won’t be judged as successful by family and friends. People have a diagnosis for everything. When people are fat, we automatically assume that they have something to hide or that they are plagued by psychological issues. In reality, I’m pretty satisfied with my life right now, and I don’t want the largesse to be all that people see. I want them to see my accomplishments and my personal attributes, not my jeans size that has grown rather unfortunate of late.

For this trip home, be forewarned that I will be carrying some extra fat stores. Not enough to have to purchase two seats on the plane, mind you, but enough to require the plane to expend a little extra fuel during takeoff. Just don’t assume that I don’t know that the weight is an issue. And if you call me fat, just don’t do it when I have an ice cream in my hand. You might end up wearing it.

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